Are You Living in Fear or Love?

It seems like a natural human instinct to hold back from loving others wholeheartedly. After all, that so often leads to great pain. I have a number of difficult memories of times when I have fought this battle within myself.

Counseling helped me to stop defending against those who truly love me, and give back wholeheartedly. I remember one particular workshop I attended where we were told to simply sit silently and receive love from another human being. Try that sometime if you think it’s easy! The trick is in convincing yourself that the love, support, affection, attention you will receive in love, will be worth the pain of its natural impermanence.

First you must be able to actually receive love, take it into your heart and believe this person truly cares about you. This has always been a challenge to me, believing that this wonderful person in my life finds me wonderful. This can be such an amazing feeling if you can learn to simply let it all in!

Valentines Day flowers
My Advice: Don’t Hold Back, Open Wholeheartedly to Love!

Here’s the deal, you only have one short lifetime. Do you want to spend it fending off the love of others? Fear is no way to live in my opinion, and I lived that way for decades of my life. Yes, you may have a little less pain, but think of all the joy you will miss!

Now I, of all people, know this is no easy process to switch from fear to love in your approach to life, but please trust me, it is so worth the effort. There are excellent counselors everywhere who would love to help you trust and believe in love again. You just have to decide to be open to a different way of seeing and experiencing your life.

That is my Valentine’s Day present to you, the knowledge that love will be worth it, if you are willing to open to its power.

“In the end
these things matter most:
How well did you love?
How fully did you live?
How deeply did you let go?”
Gautama Buddha

What are your own barriers to love?

Front window orchid cactusYour task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it…” 

The moment I saw this quote, I knew it held most of the truth behind any search for love in this world. I know for me, the greatest barrier has always been my faith in the fact that I was deserving of the best kind of affection, attention and appreciation. Once I confronted that barrier and did battle with it, love arrived at my door. And the best part was that I recognized it for exactly what it was and accepted that love wholeheartedly.

I know it sounds too simple to say that we must find ourselves absolutely lovable before we will find and accept love from others, but I’m afraid this is the truth behind most of our struggles. Most of us are unconsciously fighting off affection, when it does not match the way we see ourselves. How can this person see so much to love in me when I do not see it myself? Is this some kind of fraud or manipulation?

Because so many of us have suffered wounds in our past, loving ourselves or feeling deserving of love can be a great challenge. That is why I wrote my book: How To Believe In Love Again.

I struggled with these demons for decades before I finally did the necessary soul surgery and found my way back to a healthy sense of loving myself and feeling worthy of the love of others.

You can too.  What have you got to lose except your loneliness?

Where do you belong?

One issue that came up big-time for me in mid-midlife crisis was the realization that I didn’t belong anywhere.  Not in any one particular place or in any relationship.

I had gone about my life up until then, moving where the jobs were and changing relationships as I needed to, with little continuity. The closest I came to belonging was my marriage in my late thirties, and that ended badly seven years later.

I find our culture doesn’t particularly encourage connectedness or belonging, especially when we’re young. But I felt a strong need for a true sense of belonging by my mid-forties. This must be something that comes with age.

When you begin to look back over your life, what do you see? Do you have relationships that will sustain you in your future? Do you have a safe place to fall when bad things happen?

Do you truly belong anywhere in this world?

When I lost my job at age 49 I realized I didn’t even know if I wanted to continue to live in the same part of the country, although that would require pulling up roots once again. I kept asking myself, “Where do I belong?”

It was time for me to find new priorities.

I slowly realized I needed to find a new way of approaching love, or else I would end up alone forever. I would need to take some serious risks. That is when I went through the process described in my book: How To Believe In Love Again.

These changes in me led to my finally finding a relationship with a future, which has recently led to finding the physical place where I belong.

Finding your place in this world is essential.

Why not make this your highest priority this year?

The Amazing Power of Love & Passion

Our passions choose us. We do not choose our passions.

When I think back over the passions I have pursued in my sixty years on this planet, I know for certain that they chose me. As I lived my life, various topics excited my passions for unclear reasons. It perhaps had the most to do with who I am.

One life-long passion has been the pursuit of knowledge on so many topics. I think of my mind as a sponge that cannot wait to learn more in so many different areas. That’s one of the reasons why working as a reference librarian suited me so well. I tried specializing a number of times, but found I had far too many interests.

Thailand_1973 Photo for blogFirst and foremost I loved psychology, and still do. Then I became fascinated with Asia after living in Thailand at age 19. I pursued that passion through my undergrad degree and one graduate degree, but chose not to pursue the level of specialization required for a PhD. I could not see myself as a professor.

Being a librarian worked for me to some extent. I always said I would stay a librarian until something better came along. I completed a graduate degree in counseling psychology in 1995 and when I was forced out of my reference job in 2004, I moved on to professional writer and psychotherapist. One of my passions at that point was to work for myself for the rest of my life. Enough ridiculous bosses already!

After losing my job, I searched my soul for months and found that my next passion was to understand love. Love was the only thing that made my life worthwhile at that point in time. It was my goal to find one true love before I died.

By focusing all of my energy on starting my own dating service and interviewing hundreds of new members, I learned so much about the barriers to finding love later in life, the major one being a lost faith in love.

Why would anyone put themselves through that again? The risk/reward equation looked like a losing proposition to many I spoke to. I came to realize that the greatest barrier to finding love later in life was simply believing that love was possible and perhaps even inevitable with a renewed belief in its power.

By doing a fair amount of ‘soul surgery’ and then focusing all of my energy on believing in love again, love became inevitable for me. A few months later I met Mike through We both knew very quickly that we had met our match, and yes, love is lovelier the second time around!

After a few years of marital bliss, I decided to write  How To Believe In Love Again: Opening to Forgiveness, Trust And Your Own Inner Wisdom to share what I had learned about believing in love after so many life disappointments.

Most importantly I learned not to give up if you passionately want to experience love in this lifetime:

“So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.”  — Christopher Reeve